In this section, you will find some frequently asked questions and answers for our revenues and benefits customers, which may be particularly helpful at this time.

The Government has announced a number of new measures to help support employees, benefit claimants and businesses . The situation is changing frequently and the latest advice can be found on the Government's website.

Q. I need to access one of your services or contact a member of the Revenues and Benefits team. How should I do this?

A. Whether you're a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, you can access all of our services 24/7on our website through 'My Account'. Simply visit and select the service you need.

Because the Government has said that people should work from home as much as possible, we are currently getting as many as our officers working from home as possible to ensure that we get housing benefit paid and council tax reduction applied to accounts. We ask that you contact by email where you can on: and use our online services to make claims, update us of changes and to check payments. If you do need to call us, or if someone you know doesn't have access to the internet, they can call 01243 785166. Please be patient as we are working hard to ensure that we have as many people answering calls as possible, however you will probably still have to wait for longer than we would normally like.

We will only be sending letters and bills out once a week. Where possible, we are asking customers to sign up for online letters and bills. To do this, simply go to and select the service that you need.


Q. I am a council tax, benefits and/or business rates customer. Can I access your services online?

A. Yes — whether you are a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, you can access all of our services 24/7on our website through 'My Account'.

By using 'My Account' on our website, you can:

  • manage payments, including setting up a direct debit
  • access council tax or business rates records
  • advise us of a change of address
  • view account details and recent bills
  • claim housing benefit or council tax reduction
  • report a change in your circumstances for housing benefit or council tax reduction, and
  • update personal details

Simply visit and select the service you need.


Q. I am a resident and need financial help to pay my bills. What can I do?

A. If you are on a low income or are out of work, you can claim Universal Credit.

However, if you:

  • receive a Severe Disability Premium,
  • you are a pensioner,  and/or
  • you live in temporary accommodation.

Then you would need to claim housing benefit and/or council tax reduction from us instead.

For help with council tax bills, please see the information below.

Q. How can I apply for housing benefit?

A. Residents who are on a low income or are out of work, and who are not entitled to Universal Credit, can claim housing benefit.

To do this, please visit: Applying for benefit 

Q. How can I apply for Council Tax Reduction or access other help with my council tax bill?

The council offers a number of discounts for council tax payers, and you can see these options here: Council tax discounts 

One of the options is to apply for Council Tax Reduction. This is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. Applications should be made online at selecting benefits and make a claim.

As a result of Covid-19 the Council has received some additional funding to be used to support those of working age in receipt of Council Tax Reduction in paying their Council Tax Bill. All current working age recipients of Council Tax Reduction have received up to an additional £150 in support for this financial year. This additional payment will continue for all new applicants of Council tax Reduction that are eligible.

The Council have decided to extend this scheme to following groups.

  • People of working age who have already received £150 can claim up to an additional £100.

  • All other recipients of Council Tax Reduction i.e. pension age applicants can claim up to £150 in additional support.

  • All other Council Tax payers financially vulnerable as a result of the pandemic struggling to meet the cost of their Council Tax can claim up to £150 in discretionary support.

Applications for Discretionary Council Tax Reduction can be made online and selecting Discretionary Council Tax Reduction. The form asks you to explain why you are struggling to make payments and to describe any steps that you have taken to resolve the issue, such as request a payment holiday, claim benefits or ask family and friends for support. You will also have to tell us about your household income and outgoings.

If you apply or have applied and you are still concerned about your Council tax account we urge you to contact us so that we can discuss your options, the Council Offices remain closed therefore the best way to do this is by email or, alternatively you can call us on 01243 534509 although please be aware that in busy periods you may have to wait.

Q. I receive housing benefit and/or council tax reduction. Do I need to update you of a change in circumstance?

A. Yes please. It is important that you let us know about any change in your circumstances. This is quick and easy to do. You can do this by visiting  Change of circumstances

If your income has changed as a result of coronavirus don't forget to tell us so that your award can be amended. The easiest way to do this is online please visit

You do not need to contact us if your circumstances have not changed. If you are eligible for financial support as part of the Government's Hardship Fund, you will have your award automatically credited to your council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April.


Q. How do I find out more about Universal Credit?

A. You can find further information about Universal Credit  online at: Universal Credit - .GOV page

Universal Credit can be contacted by calling the Universal Credit helpline on: 0800 328 5644 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)

If you are already a Universal Credit customer, you can also contact them through your online account.

Q. I currently receive Universal Credit. Do I need to notify anyone of a change in circumstance?

A. Yes. You should notify the Department for Works and Pensions of any changes in your circumstances. You can do this by visiting: Universal Credit - Change of Circumstances  

For details of what constitutes a change, please follow the link above.

Q. I receive housing benefit/Universal Credit but am still having difficulty meeting my rent payments. Is there any extra help I can access?

A. You may be able to access extra help from the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Fund. This money is there to help people with their housing costs and is available to people in receipt of housing benefit or those who have housing costs included in their Universal Credit award, and where someone has a shortfall between the rent that they are eligible to pay and the amount of benefit that they receive. This can be applied for online at Benefit forms. If you have been in receipt of Discretionary Housing Payment in March 2020, we will consider an extension to your award to avoid you having to reclaim at this time. We will contact you with details about this if you are affected.

The Government has increased Local Housing Allowance rates as an emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will increase your housing benefit or universal credit payment if you rent privately. The new rates have been published, for details visit Housing benefit & council tax reduction We are working on updating our system this week and letters advising you of your new housing benefit award will be issued shortly. It would assist us if you could sign up to receive your benefit letters and council tax bills online. To find out more visit

You may also be able to access Council Tax Reduction on your council tax, which is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. The Government has announced a Hardship Fund to support residents who are struggling financially. Residents who are eligible for the support will have their award automatically credited to their council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April. If you do not receive 'Council Tax Reduction' and think you may be eligible, please visit our website for further details and to make an online application Residents who are experiencing difficulties paying their council tax are encouraged to contact the us to discuss the options available to them. You can also find out more information at: Council tax payment difficulties


Q. I am a district business. Can I access help with my business rates?

A. The council offers a number of business rate reductions, which you may be able to access. For more information, please visit: Discounts for business rates 

In addition to this, the Government has announced new measures to support businesses during this challenging time. These includes rates support.

A number of businesses will receive support through the increase of Expanded Retail Rate Relief, including pubs. This will assist around 1,000 businesses in our district, with a total rates reduction of £27m in this financial year.

In addition to this, the Government have introduced 100% business rates relief for Day Nurseries registered on Ofsted's Early Years Register. This will assist 18 nurseries in the district and reduce their combined rates bill by £250,000.

There is no need for businesses to apply for these reductions and amending bills showing the full reduction will be issued on 15 April 2020.

Business Support FAQs

Further business advice and support can be found at: Business advice & support.

Test and Trace support payment FAQs:

Q. Are you issuing Test and Trace support payments?

A. The Government has announced a  new financial package to support and enfore self-isolation  for those on low incomes who are instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Those who receive notification from this service from the 28 September who meet the following eligibility criteria will qualify for a support payment of £500. Those eligible will:

  • Have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace — the message from this service will include a unique reference number which must be provided on the application;
  • Be employed or self-employed;
  • Be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result; and
  • Be in receipt of at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

As a council, we will be processing applications and issuing these payments and we are working hard to develop systems to enable claims to be made online.

To check eligibility and to apply, please visit our test and trace support payment page.


Q. Is this payment taxable?

This payment will be subject to income tax. It will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.

Q. What happens if I'm self-employed?

A. The payment will be a coronavirus support payment and therefore a revenue receipt of your business, contributing towards your profits. The payment will need to be included on your Self Assessment Tax Return along with any other coronavirus support payments you may have received.

Q. What happens if I'm employed?

There is nothing you need to do. If your income for the year is not more than £12,500, you will not have any tax to pay. If tax is due, HMRC will automatically recover it from your pay through a change in your tax code. HMRC will send you a new tax code notice.

Q. Can I receive the payment whilst in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay?

A. Claimants can claim Statutory Sick Pay as well as a Test and Trace Support Payment, but not contractual sick pay from their employer. Employers can claim Statutory Sick Pay Reimbursement for those self-isolating.

Q. Does the payment impact existing benefit entitlements?

A. No, the payment does not affect existing entitlements to Universal Credit, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit. The payment will also be disregarded as income for the purposes of tax credits